You may not own a McDonald's franchise, but you should be paying attention to the National Labor Relations Board and its complaint against McDonald's and franchisees over worker rights.
The board's chief counsel says McDonald's violates the rights of employees working at its restaurants to seek better pay and working conditions. While there are thousands of McDonald's in the United States, 86 cases were cited, with violations including firings, reduced hours and other forms of discipline against workers who engaged in union or other legally protected activity.
"This changes the rules for everybody," predicts Fred Wszolek of the Workforce Fairness Institute. Every business that's built on a franchise model, he says, is involved with the complaint against McDonald's.
McDonald's says the move is an overreach and vowed to contest the complaint. Hearings are set to begin in March.
In a story about the decision, The Washington Free Beacon stated that the NLRB "took another step toward eliminating the franchise business model on Friday," opening the doors to unionization.
The same story stated that an attorney going after McDonald's for the NLRB, Richard Griffin, is a former union attorney.
If a complaint is lodged against them, Wszolek explains, it can be lodged against the parent company.
"Which means the parent company is, over time, going to demand more micro-management of the individual franchisees if they're going to be on the hook. So this is a huge thing," he says.
He predicts the case will end up before the U.S. Supreme Court "because the stakes are so high."